SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KTIV) -- Usually, it's bad news when an employer announces furlough days for employees, but Monday's news of five days without work means hundreds of Iowans can keep their jobs.
Monday in Des Moines, the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, or AFSCME, announced its members have approved about $26 million in concessions in exchange for the promise of no layoffs this fiscal year.
Fifty-nine percent of AFSCME members voted in favor of the five furlough days, and giving up around $74 per month in retirement contributions.
It was a vote many union members called "unfair."
"A lot of them told me, maybe we should raise taxes and make everybody pay for it instead of us. That's probably the biggest one I heard. Why is it always us?" said AFSCME Council President Danny Homan.
However, in record numbers, AFSCME members conceded around $26 million in cuts in order to save more than 400 jobs in Iowa. AFSCME represents state, county and city workers throughout the country. Iowa has more than 20,000 members, which local union president Gregg Barnes says, are all family.
"One of our members stepped up and said he'd rather step up and take a hit in the nose than to have somebody step up and get knocked clear out," Barnes said.
Barnes says, whether we know it or not, this vote affects nearly every Iowan because of the union's far reach.
"All the way from firemen to security to civil engineers to clerk of courts," Barnes said.
Barnes wants all Iowans to appreciate what many AFSCME families will have to give up.
"Five days without work is going to be a sacrifice for everybody and as I said, we're a family. And so we're all going to... we all voted to go ahead and sacrifice to keep as many members of our family still together," he says.
Barnes hopes that sacrifice will help Iowa's budget can get back on track.
"Nobody knows what it's going to be like come July 1. Nobody has a crystal ball."
The promise of no layoffs is good until July 1, 2010, the end of this fiscal year. Sixty-six percent of eligible voters cast their ballots in the vote.